UFV sees healthy future in Chilliwack

The new faculty of health sciences at the University of the Fraser Valley is the university’s way of responding to the increasing demand on health care in B.C..

Dr. Eric Davis speaks during the launch of the faculty of health sciences at UFV yesterday.

Dr. Eric Davis speaks during the launch of the faculty of health sciences at UFV yesterday.

The new faculty of health sciences at the University of the Fraser Valley is the university’s way of responding to the increasing demand on health care in B.C..

UFV announced on Monday it has combined existing programs from the faculty of science and faculty of professional studies into one faculty of health sciences.

Included in the new faculty is the bachelor of kinesiology degree, bachelor of science in nursing degree, practical nursing certificate, health care assistant certificate, certified dental assistant certificate, and a dental hygiene diploma.

“We wanted to create a faculty that will produce the most amount of synergy around health care at the university and in the community,” said Dr. Eric Davis, UFV provost and vice president academic.

“This combination of programs from the departments of kinesiology and physical education and the school of health sciences will produce a really dynamic faculty that will also respond very immediately to the physical needs of the Fraser Valley in terms of health care.”

The population in the Fraser Valley is rapidly growing, especially in areas like Chilliwack. With the Baby Boom generation approaching its senior years, the demand for professionals in the health care sector is expected to explode.

Minister of Health Mike de Jong noted that virtually half of every tax dollar sent to the provincial government goes to supporting health care services.

“The cost of health care in our province is escalating,” said de Jong. “It cannot continue to grow at the current rate because if it does it is going to impact every other part of this institution and our communities.”

The new faculty of health sciences is expected to address those needs.

Davis said the new faculty would not only improve the rate in which health care workers are trained, “which is badly needed,” but will also be a way of preventing further health care problems by increasing health education in the community.

By combining the departments of kinesiology and physical education with health sciences, Davis said it will now be easier for students, who are interested in pursuing an education in health care, to navigate the university’s programs. It will also create more opportunities for teaching and research.

“It makes tremendous sense,” said Davis. “It will create a multiplicity of teaching and learning opportunities, research opportunities, and opportunities for students to be involved with research and learning.”

The university hopes to add more health care programs in the future.

“Over the years we expect the number of programs we have will grow, resources permitting,” said Davis. “This new faculty is creating the foundation.”

The faculty of health sciences will be located on the Chilliwack campus at the Canada Education Park effective May 2012.

John Jansen, president of Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO), was ecstatic with the announcement of the new faculty coming to Canada Education Park.

Ever since CEPCO partnered with the City of Chilliwack and Canada Lands Company in 2003 to launch the Canada Education Park project, it had been advocating for a health sciences centre at the park.

“If you have a health sciences faculty in the university in your community, it will attract professionals,” Jansen told The Progress Monday. “It’s great for the community to have not only a strong education base in health sciences, but also of course the use of a facility to enable that to be delivered to the population.

“We see a great potential for health sciences in our community.”

kbartel@theprogress.com

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